Day One Hundred & Three (15th Dec) – San Martin de Los Andes

20 12 2010

Our final day of the road trip saw us make our way back to San Martin de Los Andes, but on a different route. The Argentinean lake district is a very popular holiday destination for Argentineans and Chileans, but most of them flock to the area in January and February. This was fine by us, as we had the road almost entirely to ourselves.

We stopped for lunch at Villa Traful on Lago Traful which in our opinion was the best place visited on the road trip. Words and certainly not one of our photos could describe how beautiful this place is. It actually pained me to have to leave – probably my favourite spot in South America… I think… it’s so hard to pick just one!

We reluctantly got back in the car and set off. Travelling alongside Rio Collon Cura, passing fisheries and passing lots of great Condor viewing points. However, we couldn’t stop as we had a more pressing issue… We were almost out of fuel! The fuel light had been on for a while and was now flashing at us. If we were going to make it the 32km to Junin de los Andes and the only fuel station we had seen since leaving Bariloche, desperate measures were going to have to be taken. Jen was driving and did a great job feathering the accelerator pedal in 5th gear and dropping the clutch to coast down the hills. Thankfully this worked and we made it to the petrol station.

Our final, less stressful stretch was the rather uninteresting road from Junin de los Andes to San Martin de Los Andes, where we ended a fantastic and highly recommended road trip by returning a new very dirty Vauxhall Corsa.

Driving in Argentina is absolutely mental. Hands down the country has got to be the worst place I have ever driven. There is a complete absence of road markings or road signs and often no traffic light in towns, making traffic junctions at the intersection of blocks essentially a game of chicken. I thought being a pedestrian was tough, but driving brings another element.

A rather inappropriately named children's shop

Pedestrians seem to have been an after thought in Argentina. Junctions with traffic lights are rare unless in a large city. Pedestrians have no indication of when it’s safe to cross, which it often never is, as we have seen cars run red lights. If your not saying ‘wow’ at the scenery it will be ‘wow’ at the mental driving. For example there is a clause in all the car hire documents for flipping the car. The excess you have to pay if you do so is tripled.

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